Rural painter brings the nations together in arts group
Bukhanova began Multicultural Artists Group out of ashes of Global Gallery
Wednesday, Aug 15, 2012 06:00 am
Few took notice when the Global Gallery closed down a few years ago, but Nataliya Bukhanova had a strong interest in it.
Burgeoning artists who come from other countries and are still trying to assimilate would certainly appreciate having a gallery specifically catering to them, helping them to stay successful and on their artistic path while they learn the language.
Global fit the bill exactly for a small but growing number of those foreign-born artists who had moved to the Metro Edmonton area.
The gallery – organized by the Mennonite Centre for Newcomers – started in 2007 but floundered in 2009 for lack of manpower. Bukhanova herself didn’t have the ability at the time to take up the gauntlet, but she has finally found a strong substitute. Last month, she created the Multicultural Artists Group, and she feels that it will do a fine job of filling in the vacancy left by Global.
“It had brilliant ideas to get new visual artists together and get them to know each other and all the opportunities to start their careers again in a new country,” the Legal painter and poet began. “The gallery had a couple of exhibitions and some interesting projects, but then it disappeared peacefully. I did not want this wonderful idea to disappear without any trace.”
Her goals are essentially the same but without the gallery itself for the time being. The group exists for a few purposes including establishing a network of multicultural artists, to exchange information about opportunities for newcomer artists, and to collaborate on projects like festivals, exhibitions and the like.
A gallery is the long-term goal, but an online gallery is likely more possible in the immediate future.
She sees this group as not only a way of getting exposure for her and the other members. Bukhanova says that it is a vital creative community where talents can be mutually fostered and other projects and possibilities can easily arise. They just need to work together to learn how Canada’s artistic environment works and how they need to catch up.
For example, she explains that she never studied art management or business in her Russian homeland. Now that she’s here, she understands how Canadian artists must promote themselves and their works.
“Very soon after moving to Canada, I understood that art galleries and agents do not work with immigrant artists. I started to search for the information on how to get my artworks noticeable, how to set up my career in arts in Canada ... . I realized that newcomer artists usually do not know which way to go in the very beginning.”
She added: “I hate the situation when a talented person washes dishes in a restaurant or picks up garbage from the streets because they do not know or do not have an opportunity to work in their fields. It is a huge problem in Canada, and if I can help people to find their place here, I will do it as best as I can.”
The group had its first meeting at the end of July and so far has 11 people on board, coming from as far abroad as Europe and Asia. Everything is still in the early stages but hopes – and ideas – are running high. There has already been some talk about participating in two art shows in the fall.
Efim Konovalov is one of the new members. He said that this is exactly what he wants to get out of it.
“I hope to get more exposure in exhibitions,” he stated, adding that NDP MLA Rachel Notley’s Art from the Unknown show last fall is another good opportunity for new and emerging artists to show their works.
Interested parties can contact the group and get involved through its webpage at www.meetup.com/a-group-for-multicultural-artists. The next meeting is planned for Monday, Sept. 17.
There does seem to be a parallel between this group and Writers Beyond Borders, a writers’ circle that Bukhanova also belongs to. Earlier this year, that group published a collection of stories called Writing in the Margins. That book also served the purpose of giving international writers to tell stories from their own countries, like Bukhanova’s own rendition of A Magic Fern and a Palm Tree, a Russian myth about a fern that blooms one day out of the year, showing the way to a hidden treasure.
“I did not create Writers Beyond the Borders … but the idea – to promote creative people – is the same,” she said.